"Piazza Montecitorio" Top 5 Page for this destination Colonna Marco Aurelio - Column of Marcus Aurelius Tip by von.otter

  Palazzo Montecitorio & Obelisk, December 2000
by von.otter

Piazza Montecitorio, which means ?welcoming hill,? is at the very center of the Italian capital. Ancient Roman centurions would gather to vote on this hill. Today this political tradition continues. Since 1871 Palazzo Montecitorio has housed Italy?s lower house of Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies. The palazzo was built in 1650 by Gianlorenzo Bernini for Pope Innocent X, who gave it as a gift to the family of his predecessor, Pope Gregory XV.

The obelisk at the center of Piazza Montecitorio dates from the 6th century BC; it was carved for Psamtik I. Augustus found it in Heliopoli; when he brought it to Rome it caused a great stir. In the Campus Martius, not far from its present location, it was used to form the needle of a giant sundial: bronze markers, set into the paving, marked the seasons, months and days. Pope Pius VI had it placed in this piazza in 1792. Unlike other obelisks in the Eternal City, it is surmounted not by a crucifix but by a gnomon and ball.

Because the piazza is traffic-free, it is very peaceful. And because there are always guards on duty at the Chamber of Deputies the area is quite safe. When we visited in late 2000-early 2001 there was a revival cinema in one corner of the square. Two hotels sit along the plaza?s edges, the Albergo Nazionale and the Colonna Palace Hotel.

Address: Piazza Colonna

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  • Updated Mar 13, 2007
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